COVID-19 safety restrictions drove the need for online and phone services to replace face-to-face counselling and supports. People using substances are experiencing virtual services differently depending on their age, gender and where they are in Canada. It is important to understand how different people are experiencing services that are delivered through technology such as telemedicine, video conferencing or other apps.
In partnership with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Canadian Psychological Association and Canada Health Infoway, the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) collected national data on the experience and perceptions of virtual services and supports, including education and access to health care or treatment (e.g., counselling, peer support).
The data from this survey is now available in Considerations for Virtual Services and Supports for Substance Use and Concurrent Disorders [Policy Brief].
Conducted between February and April 2021, the survey asked people about:
- Their satisfaction with virtual services and supports for substance use and concurrent disorders,
- Their perceptions of the effectiveness of these services, and
- Any barriers they faced to accessing these services.
The researchers also interviewed practitioners from across Canada who provided virtual services and supports for substance use disorders or co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders during the pandemic.
To further develop sustainable and effective virtual services after the pandemic, policy and support for infrastructure are needed. This support must be based on evidence and consider both client and practitioner experiences.